Guest Editor: Kate Betts’ Favorite Seafood Recipes
When I started at Vogue in 1996, Kate Betts was one of the top editors at the magazine. I’ve admired her style and dynamic career ever since, so you can imagine my thrill to have Kate as a guest editor for On My Plate.
Kate is a contributing editor for Time and the author of Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style (Clarkson Potter). She is currently at work on her second book, her memoir of breaking into the fashion business in Paris in the late 1980s.
Ever since I lived in Paris in the mid-1980s for about five years I’ve been obsessed with cooking and with fresh produce, green markets, and fast and easy recipes. The first year I lived in Paris I rented a room from a young French family on the rue de Grenelle in the seventh arrondissement. The mother of the family, Bibiane, was (still is) a great cook. She taught cooking classes to Americans like me and did it with a no-fuss attitude. I like to say I learned how to make a great meal out of three eggs, some salad and a baguette from Bibiane. She was hell bent on teaching us over prepared Americans that all we needed in the kitchen were fresh ingredients and a little imagination.
When I moved back to New York City in the early 1990s I was lucky enough to discover a great green market in my neighborhood downtown. And one of the all-time great luxuries of this Tribeca green market is a fishmonger named Alex Villani who sets up his Blue Moon Fish stall every Saturday morning and sells the freshest fish I’ve ever tasted (Whole Foods can’t hold a candle). You have to get to Blue Moon early or the crowds of local chefs and neighborhood die-hards will beat you to the seasonal offering of whole striped bass, bay scallops, flounder, bonito, skate, cod, tuna, swordfish, blue fish, you name it! My great friend Carlyne Cerf is also obsessed with fresh food and knows every vendor in every green market from Union Square to Paris’s Rue du Bac. Sometimes we compare notes on our Blue Moon purchases. Often we share recipes (the simpler the better). And we always inform each other if for some strange reason Alex doesn’t show up (Blue Moon is on hiatus from the end of December through mid March).
There are also some wonderful vegetable farmers, orchards, and chicken farmers at the green market, but Blue Moon is my favorite. Although my kids don’t love fish, I like to cook it as often as possible. And, of course, I have my favorite recipes. They’re fast, easy and delicious!
This is a recipe I learned from my good friend Chris Clark who also likes to cook. He’s a great fisherman and when we vacation with his family in August he always catches striped bass and prepares it this way:
Take a striped bass fillet and douse it with some olive oil and lemon. Then sprinkle Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Magic on top. Finish it off with fresh cilantro and few slices of fresh lemon and pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350.
I also like to serve this in the spring when asparagus is fresh and make an asparagus, fusilli with chives and chevre.
Swordfish Steaks in Lime-Soy Marinade:
This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks: Anna Pump’s The Loaves and Fishes Cookbook. Anyone who has spent time in the Hamptons knows Pump’s famous shop of the same name (where lobster salad goes for $60 a pound—we call is “Loans and Finances”), but Pump is a great cook and her book has some classic fish recipes.
Cut 4 lbs. of swordfish into 8 steaks. Combine 1/3 cup of soy sauce, grated lime peel, ¼ cup of lime juice, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, ¼ cup of peanut oil and ¼ cup of finely chopped scallion in a bowl. Pour over swordfish and marinate for 2-4 hours or overnight.
Preheat the broiler, place fish under broiler in pan and broil for 4-5 minutes on each side, until fish is flaky.
Bay Scallops with Tomato and Cream:
I love tiny Nantucket bay scallops and you can only get them for about two weeks in mid-November. Blue Moon always has them, but they sell out and if you don’t get there before 8 a.m. chances are they’re gone. Some people—my friend Carlyne—eat them raw. When they’re really fresh you can do this. I like to sauté them in a pan with a drop of butter and fresh parsley and pepper. This is the best way to savor their sweet, sea salt flavor. If you like a little more flavor, I suggest this recipe below, which is a hybrid of several different recipes I’ve learned:
Melt ½ stick of butter in a pan and add two cloves of minced fresh garlic. Add a cup of heavy cream, salt, pepper and 4 diced plum tomatoes (or canned tomatoes drained and chopped). Simmer for 5 minutes until sauce starts to thicken.
Take 2 ½ lbs. of fresh scallops and toss them in a ½ cup of flour, sauté in butter for about 2 minutes. Do this in a few batches so as not to crowd the pan.
When they’re done transfer the scallops to the sauce. Serve with rice.
You can also use these recipes with regular scallops, which are more widely available throughout the season.
KATE’S FISH PREP ESSENTIALS FOR YOUR PANTRY
Photos Courtesy of Kate Betts & Blue Moon Fish